Shop Talk is a feature through which we highlight businesses and other organizations in and near the South Loop. Today’s featured organization is Kurah Mediterranean, which is located at the corner of 14th Street and Michigan Avenue. Here’s what Managing Partner Christopher Kimpel has to say about starting the restaurant, how it has evolved, and what’s on tap for the future. If you’d like your organization to be featured in Shop Talk, please contact us.
For over three years Kurah Mediterranean, at the corner of 14th Street and Michigan Avenue, has been a source of excellent food, great service, and a unique culinary experience within the South Loop Neighborhood.
Kurah opened in August of 2013 as a Mediterranean Tapas restaurant featuring small plates, and a “share atmosphere.” Kurah became a popular spot for locals and foodies alike, resulting in a number of awards including two Michelin Bib Gourmand recognitions in 2014 and 2015. After much discussion and debate, the management of Kurah decided to make some changes to the menu, focusing on the classic dining experience that most people are familiar with.
Kurah was featured in 16 Chicago Neighborhood Food Gems to Try During Restaurant Week!
Why we decided to open a restaurant in the South Loop
The South Loop has always been important to our company. In addition to Kurah, we own the South Loop Markets, at which many local residents shop. One of our partners is a chef by trade and always dreamed of offering a more contemporary spin on classic Mediterranean dishes in his own neighborhood. Once we saw the spot on 14th and Michigan we knew it would be the perfect place for a restaurant. Being in the South Loop, there is always an amazing sense of community. We have numerous regular customers both at the stores and at Kurah who are always good for a laugh, story, or just a quick hello. It is so exciting and invigorating to see the South Loop grow and change into the vibrant community it has become.
Changing the menu to enhance the dining experience
The goal of Kurah has always been to provide delicious, fresh made food, and a fantastic dining experience. We started out by crafting the menu at Kurah based on shareable dishes, but found that our food and portions did not quite fit into the smaller “bite sized” portions that most people were used to. In mid 2015 we tweaked our menu, crafting our dishes into more appetizer and entrée friendly portions, and adding new dishes. This allows us to explore all the flavors and options that are present in Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean Cuisine, without being constricted to “small plates”.
What makes the Kurah dining experience unique
At Kurah we strive to give each of our guests a unique and positive experience. The interior of Kurah is ornately decorated with hand drawn art, hanging bulbs, and custom wall paper. The space is smaller and much more intimate with a total seating of just under 100 guests. We also have a private room that holds ten and looks into our pita oven, and an upstairs mezzanine level that can hold private events of up to 30 people. In addition to a unique atmosphere, we have a menu that is almost one hundred percent crafted in our kitchen, including homemade pita bread, and hand rolled grape leaves, bacon dates, and kubbeh. We also offer Halal meats, for practicing Muslims, as well as numerous vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free items.
The dishes diners always seem to come back for
Guests and regulars certainly have their favorites but the bacon wrapped dates and our homemade hummus with pine nuts always seems to bring customers back. We were featured on WGN’s ‘Chicago’s Best’ for our dates, which are stuffed with a pecan and goat cheese and then hand wrapped in Applewood smoked bacon and topped with a sweet pomegranate syrup. The hummus is made fresh daily and topped with a cilantro pine nut dressing that gives it that little bit of extra flavor. We are often told by guests that we have the best hummus they have ever had.
What guests can expect from Kurah in 2017
This will be an exciting year for Kurah. We recently hired an Oud player (a type of guitar) to provide music on Thursday nights, adding an authentic, live aspect to our beautiful space. At the end of January and into February we will again be a part of Chicago Restaurant Week (January 27 through February 9), with specially-designed menus for lunch ($22) and dinner ($33 vegetarian and $44 non-vegetarian).
We will also have a special Valentine’s Day menu and rotating specials. Every day we have a happy hour with multiple $5 food and drink deals from 4 pm until 6 pm. In April, once the weather warms, we will be starting a new weekend brunch, just in time to put up our new covered outdoor patio.